Urban Trees: Friend or Foe to Crime?

A new study published in the June issue of <em>Landscape and Urban Planning</em> intends to settle once and for all the debate about whether urban trees provide a deterrent or inducement for crime, writes Eric Jaffe.

May 30, 2012, 8:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


Conflicting studies over the years have reached differing conclusions about the relationship between urban vegetation and crime. One school of thought believes urban greenery provides a natural hiding place for criminals, another argues that "trees actually decrease crime either by attracting more people to public
places (Jane Jacobs' 'eyes on the street' theory) or by signifying to
criminals that people care about their neighborhood (James Q. Wilson's 'broken windows' theory).

A recent study conducted by a team of environmental researchers, led by Austin Troy of the University of Vermont, on the relationship between crime and vegetation in Baltimore seeks to end the debate. According to Jaffe, researchers "report an inverse relationship between tree canopy and a variety of crimes in the Baltimore city and county regions." 

And their nuanced findings help to explain the prior confusion. "While low dense brush seems to increase it [crime], tall broad canopies seem to
decrease it. That nuanced conclusion harmonizes with another study published earlier this year, in which U.S.D.A. Forest Service researcher Geoffrey Donovan (who has also linked urban tree coverage to home prices)
reports the same mixed tree-crime associations in Portland, Oregon."

Friday, May 25, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

LAX Cars

Car Noise Is Killing Us

It’s not just traffic collisions that kill—a new study from researcher at Rutgers finds that the loud noises emanating from cars has direct impact on heart health in Americans.

May 6, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Rittenhouse Square, a park in Philadelphia, framed by large buildings.

Parks as a Weapon Against Climate Change

The 2022 ParkScore finds that cities are increasingly employing green space as a tool for mitigating heat and extreme weather effects, but the distribution of parks remains inequitable.

May 16 - Trust for Public Land

View of Louisiana state capitol building and downton Baton Rouge, LA

Louisiana Capital Shifting to Electric Transit

The Baton Rouge area is now served by a fleet of nine all-electric buses.

May 16 - American Journal of Transportation

Mount Rainier

New Community Engagement Practices for Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan Update

A major update of Seattle’s comprehensive plan is just getting under way, with new opportunities for local groups to get involved with outreach and engagement.

May 16 - Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.